OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Comcast lost 33,000 pay TV subscribers in Q4 2017, reducing its total video customer base to 21.3 million and bringing net video losses for the year to 151,000, although the operator says video revenue increasing by 1.5% to $5.7 billion in the fourth quarter helped offset losses. It also gained 350,000 new internet subscribers in the quarter to reach just under 25.9 million. X1 licensing agreements contributed to revenue growth in Comcast’s Other sector of 2.3% to $693 million. It said that Xfinity mobile now has 380,000 customers, up from 250,000 last quarter.

UK operator Sky gained 380,000 new subscribers on TV and mobile services in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria in the second half of 2017, to offset losses of 15,000 in Italy. UK TV customers ads were 157,000. Its total customer base across the five countries reached 22.9 million. First half 2017 revenue grew 5% to $9.6 billion, with EBITDA up 10% to $1.6 billion. Sky also announced the launch of a new dongle device for its Now TV streaming service, plus new download functionality and put it on the new Apple TV. The company reaffirmed its plans to go broadband-only, with Italy the first region to offer a TV service without satellite dishes this year, followed by Austria, then the UK later this year or in early 2019.

Video monitoring and analytics software company Interra Systems is now supporting AWS Elemental Media Services products, including MediaConvert, MediaLive and MediaPackage. Interra Systems can now offer customers quality control and monitoring systems for live and on-demand workflows, with the added efficiency of delivery via AWS cloud infrastructure.

Mapping firm Here has acquired Micello, a US software company with a platform for creating, editing and publishing indoor maps. Here plans to combine Micello’s platform with its own tracking technologies for location-based applications such as navigating shopping malls and other public spaces, optimizing factory workspaces and improving public safety.

US entertainment group Starz has struck a deal to relaunch Bell Media’s movie service The Movie Network Encore next year as a Starz-branded service, to be the first Starz service in Canada. The channel will be available via linear TV and as a standalone streaming app.

Computer vision technology developer Esports One has raised $3 million to provide AI-based analytics for e-sports fans. The technology will help viewers understand what is happening during a live e-sports stream, as much of the action is too fast to follow.

Czech DTH operator Skylink has added movie channel Filmbox from SPI International Filmbox to its digital package, available to around 1 million TV subscribers in the Czech Republic and 600,000 in Slovakia.

Apple’s Siri-powered smart speaker, the HomePod, will hit stores on February 9 in the US, UK and Australia, retailing at $349. The 7-inch HomePod device will arrive in France and Germany in Spring, after it was first announced in June last year.

Swedish operator Com Hem added 5,000 TiVo subscribers in Q4 2017, offsetting digital TV losses of 1,000. It now has 655,000 TV subscribers, of which 264,000 are on the TiVo service. Revenue for the quarter increased by 1.4% to $228.5 million, but operating profit was down to $25.7 million from $28.9 million in the previous year. Remember cellular operator Tele2 is in the process of acquiring Com Hem.

The suitability of 5G networks for large-scale transmission of TV channels is to be examined by German broadcast research center IRT. It will test the 5G broadcast mode FeMBMS (Further evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service) in a field test with partner companies Telefonica Deutschland, public broadcaster BR, antenna manufacturer Kathrein, and test equipment maker Rohde & Schwarz.

French pay TV provider Canal+ has launched its new 4K UHD set top, powered by open source Frog middleware from long-term software supplier Wyplay. The hybrid set top allows for satellite and internet streams, with fast channel change on 8 tuners, high-speed WiFi and advanced security.

Indian media group Times Internet has acquired a $200 million majority stake in South Korean video player tool MX Player, to power the launch a new OTT service for the Indian market in the coming months, according to reports from local news outlet The Ken. MX Player supports multi-core decoding for improving video quality from small file sizes and has been downloaded 63.3 million times by Android users in India.

Canadian operator Shaw Communications has supported the launch of a free WiFi service with 10 Mbps speeds in Vancouver, installing over 600 WiFi hotspots.

Malaysian streaming service SportsFix is expanding to Thailand and Indonesia following a $1 million funding injection from Australian investment firm Mayfair 101. SportsFix offers live matches and VoD titles of various sports from around the world, with plans to use the cash to develop original content.

Disney’s streaming technology unit BAMTech has recruited former Apple and Samsung executive Kevin Swint as SVP and GM of its new standalone OTT video service, due to launch in 2019.

US encoding company Harmonic has been selected by Swiss broadcast news channel La Télé. Harmonic is supplying its Spectrum X media server playout system, plus its Polaris Play automation product to control scheduled playout operations, and Aveco automation for live news coverage. The system is integrated with a traffic system from broadcast software vendor Chyro and media asset management software from IMC Technologies.

T-Mobile has completed its acquisition of US cable company Layer3 TV, with plans to soon launch a disruptive IP video service. “I can’t wait to bring the fight to cable and satellite TV,” commented T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

TiVo expanded its patent licensing deal with Google last week to include YouTube TV. The new multi-year agreement covers use of TiVo technologies worldwide and a license for Google’s products and services across internet-based platforms and devices.

Nearly 229 million people in China will view video content on streaming services this year, with 37% of these signing up for a paid subscription service, according to an eMarketer report. OTT subscriptions increased over 80% in 2017, and 40% of digital video viewers will sign up to an OTT service by 2019.

Turner has revealed plans to launch its SVoD service Filmstruck internationally, in partnership with Warner Brothers. The roll out will begin in the next two years, reaching the UK first in association with cinema brand Curzon.

Dish Network’s new dual-tuner HD set top, the Hopper Duo, has launched for households with one or two TV sets. The device comes with Dish’s new voice remote supporting Amazon Alexa voice control, a 500 GB hard drive for up to 125 hours of HD DVR storage, universal search, Bluetooth audio support, remote finder and plenty of apps.